Are You Here? Are You Now? Are You Present?
No matter how much we try, plan, plot, arrange, have things to do, leave the house at the same time each day, arrive at the office the same time, pick up the kids on time, we still do not know what will happen next. Each day can so easily seem the same when we follow a routine of going to work, sitting at the same desk, coming home the way we always do. Did you ever feel like it is always Monday morning as the week goes by so fast, or as if you are always brushing your teeth, as the days seem to vanish?
When we were in England, Ed was chatting with a Buddhist nun named Avis. He said, “Some day we will all die and meet up in heaven.” And Avis replied, “Yeah and we’ll look at each other and say, ‘What was that all about!’”
Normally, we spend our time either living in what-could-have-been or what-might-have-been or if-only, or in the expectation of what-could-be or what-might-be. Of course, we can learn from the past. As challenging as it may be, the most painful experience often turns out to be our best teacher, and we may feel enormous gratitude as we learned so much. However, memories can also be like comfortable old shoes we are reluctant to part with. We put them on now and then to enjoy the familiarity, but we do not have to wear them every day. Ed trained at the Bihar School of Yoga in India and one day his teacher looked at him and said, “Man’s memory is like a fools paradise!” Constantly living in either the past or the future is like being in a dream, as it limits our capacity to be in the wonder of the present, just being with what is happening now.
Although everything may appear so predictable the reality is that life changes in every instant, we just don’t notice it. We used to live next to a river and walked beside it each day. But as much as it looked like the same river, even the same water, it was constantly different as it flowed into the sea. Just as we may look the same, the cells in our body are forever being formed, growing and dying; we are continually changing as we renew ourselves in every minute.
We can stay open to these moments of change by simply being aware of them. Right now, just stop and take a deep breath. As you breath out, just notice how your body feels, the chair you are sitting on, and the room you are in. That’s all. It only takes an instant to be in the present.
Contrary to common belief, it can be immensely liberating to have nothing going on, to discover that the whole universe is contained in this moment. To realize that nothing more is required of us than to just be aware and present. What a relief! Finally, we can experience this reality just as it is, without expectation, prejudice, or longing, or without the desire for something to be different. This invites a deep sense of completion, that there really is nowhere else we need to be or go. It is impossible to think of somewhere else as being better as the grass is vividly green exactly where we are. Someone once asked Ed if he had ever experienced another dimension. He replied, “Have you experienced this one?”
Meditating In the Moment
When we meditate by simply watching the flow of the breath, it naturally brings us into the present. The breath is just breathing, and yet it is never the same, each breath is completely different to the last one. You can silently repeat, “I am here, I am now, I am present! I am here, I am now, I am present!”
Practice: Being and Breathing Meditation
Sit comfortably with your back straight, hands are in your lap, eyes are closed. Spend a few minutes settling your body, being aware of the room around you and the chair you are sitting on.
Now bring your focus to your breathing, just watch the natural movement of air as you breathe in and out. Silently repeat, “Breathing in, Breathing out.”
Stay with watching your breath. If your mind starts to drift just see your thoughts as birds in the sky and watch them fly away. Then come back to the breath.
Anytime you get distracted, bored, or stressed, just come back to the breath, to this moment now. Silently repeat, “I am here, I am now, I am present! I am here, I am now, I am present!”
You can do this for a few minutes or as long as you like. When you are ready, take a deep breath and let it go, open your eyes, and move gently.
What keeps you from being here and now? Do comment below.